A Morecambe woman diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 25 is backing a new campaign raising awareness of the disease.
Lauren Maguire, now 27, is backing charity Teenage Cancer Trust’s new #StillMe campaign, which shines a light on the huge impact that changes to appearance caused by cancer and treatment can have on young people’s body image, confidence and self-esteem.
Lauren is one of 20 young people across the UK whose cancer and treatment has led to scarring, hair loss, huge weight fluctuations, facial tumours and amputations, and who are speaking out about their experiences – and offering tips and advice on how to cope.
Teenage Cancer Trust hope that the tips and advice from young people like Lauren shared in the campaign’s inspiring #StillMe online films and at www.teenagecancertrust.org/stillme will help other people struggling with body issues, whatever their age.
For the campaign, Lauren is opening up about the impact that scarring from a skin graft had on her confidence and what helped her get through it.
She said: “I thought the cancer was going to take over my life and that I would no longer be able to do the things I love, like going to the gym and going on holiday as it would show off my skin grafts on my belly and lower leg. I was worried about going out at the weekend because I didn’t want to wear dresses or skirts, I’d have to be covered up because I was worried about people looking and staring.
“Teenage Cancer Trust helped me to realise that it was going to be a part of me, but that I shouldn’t let it take over. I still sometimes catch people staring, which I find a little bit hard, but not as much as I used to. I’m a lot more confident with having it out now.”
Teenage Cancer Trust is also calling for people who have friends or loved ones experiencing body image issues to visit its website to help them better understand what they are going through.
Lauren added: “My advice to other young people would be to accept who you are and try to feel comfortable in your body no matter what – forget what anyone else thinks, it’s not their problem.”
Every day, seven young people in the UK are diagnosed with cancer. Teenage Cancer Trust’s Youth Support Coordinators and nurses, which are based in hospitals and local communities across the UK, provide emotional and practical support that helps young people cope with the impact of cancer on their lives, including the impact of changes to their bodies.
Kate Collins, chief executive officer, Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “Over the past three decades we’ve supported thousands of young people like Lauren through treatment, and we know changes in appearance can be distressing and tough to deal with.
“The ‘ideal’ bodies and looks portrayed on Instagram that many young people aspire to are difficult to live up to at the best of times - and the effects of cancer and treatment on appearance, like scarring, can really add to this pressure.
“People like Lauren are sharing their experiences of how they coped, and this will do so much to help other people facing similar issues. We’re really proud and grateful that she is part of our #StillMe campaign.”